The Akhbaris and Politics in Iran: A Study on the Nature of the Political Dispute Between the Akhbaris and the Valayet-e Faqih Current

ByMohammad Al-Sayyad

The Akhbaris are one of the most powerful religious currents in Iran and they have considerable influence on the Hawaza in Iran. This has implications for politicians and politics in the country. The current has shifted from a school of jurisprudence that has its origins, and rules in understanding texts and jurisprudence – to a general current resembling an ideological trend. It has transformed from a school with hierarchical rules and restrictions into a popular and public platform. As a result, the Akhbaris have influenced most currents and other schools even if they did not adopt all of their arguments.

The revisions within this current have contributed to the setbacks it experienced  after the Iranian revolution in 1979, and the disappearance of its clerics and theorists from the religious and media scene in Iran as well as its dormancy in favor of theorists of the revolution and the new religious elite. The Akhbaris dominated the Shiite religious scene for over two hundred years after it was first established by  Istarabadi, before his inactivity due to interrelated factors. Some of the reasons for its decline were external such as political interference to strengthen the fundamentalist current at the expense of the Akhbari current. The other reasons were internal  such as the current holding firmly on  old narrations without acknowledging changing religious and social realities. Therefore, the current as well as Istrabadi was incapable of providing juristic opinions and fatwas for the general public. The role of the fundamentalist movement grew in significance when it adopted ijtihad and responded to the needs of the people. The Hawaza and the religious scene would not have  developed in Iran without this current along with its ideas shaping the internal interactions of the Hawaza.

Mohammad Al-Sayyad
Mohammad Al-Sayyad
A researcher of ideological studies at Rasanah